Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis, Part_One_and_Two is where Freud gathers his insights collected from his work on dreams, as well as being seen as an introduction to his developments on the neurosis and, of course, the unconscious. For Freud indeed posits that his research on dreams, and more specifically on the dreamwork itself has given him the key to understanding the mechanisms of repression that form the unconscious. Early in his work he writes: “The obscurity in which the centre of our being is veiled from our knowledge and the obscurity surrounding the origin of dreams tally too well not to be brought into relation with each other” (Freud, 1900:36)
For Freud dreams are first of all the means by which the mind handles a stimulus and the risk it may cause in interrupting that sleep. Something is irritating the sleeper who deals with it by producing a dream and thereby continue sleeping. One way to view this irritation experienced as a stimulus is effectively as a wish that needs to be rid of for the dreamer to continue sleeping. Of course the most radical and efficient way to get rid of a wish is to fulfil it. And so a dream for Freud is seen simply as a wish that the dream represents as having been fulfilled. Now it is also the case that different kinds of wishes may be fulfilled by the dream. The sailor who as been away for too long will surely be satisfied in his dream as he is enjoying himself with a sumptuous meal. But in his Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis, Part_One_and_Two Freud makes a point in explaining that not all dreams as so easily enjoyable. More disturbing and ‘evil’ wishes as he calls them most often find their ways into a dream by way of using the day’s residues. Those wishes, for instance the desire to murder one’s father or sleep with one’s sibling, are not admissible for the adult person. Sill, wishes such as those are still expressed and fulfilled in the dream, but in a way which is necessarily unintelligible to the dreamer who would otherwise wake up panic-stricken (the nightmare).
In his Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis, Part_One_and_Two Freud helps us make a clear distinction between the different parts forming a dream. There is the manifest content of the dream, the dream as remembered on waking up and produced by the actual dreamwork from the latent dream-thoughts that are not necessarily conscious before the dream. The dreamwork can be understood as the transformation the censorship operates in order for the wish to be acceptable and avoid anxiety to the sleeper. The mechanisms at work in the dreamwork are of only two characters: each elements forming the latent thought can be either displaced or condensed. Lacan will later assimilate those as the work of metonymy and metaphor respectively. But we also discover that the dream-work can easily make use of contraries to signify the same idea, adding to the complexity of interpreting dreams.
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